Even if you don’t know them by name, most people are familiar with Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) or have at least seen them at some point in their lives. They’re the thin green boards found in all electronics from your TV remote to your washing machine, laptop, medical devices, and many more.
What fewer people know, are the manufacturing processes behind PCB assembly. As the backbone of our modern lives, PCBA manufacturing processes have high quality controls built into them to ensure better yield and lower failure rates.
If your work has to do with manufacturing, electronics, or semiconductors, it can be useful to understand how PCBA manufacturing works. As such, we’ve broken it down into the constituent steps.
1. PCB Development
The axiom measure twice, cut once doesn’t exactly apply to PCBA manufacturing but the basic idea remains. Before a circuit board can be approved for mass production, it needs to be properly designed and tested. Any flaws need to be ironed out at this stage to ensure no problems crop up later on.
There are a couple of factors to take note of when it comes to PCB design. As usual, cost-effectiveness is always important but so is quality of design, manufacturing tolerances, and following allotted development time. Simpler circuits can be approved quicker while more complicated PCB designs may need more iterations to get them right.
2. PCB Manufacturing
Once engineers are satisfied with the chosen PCB design, we can move on to the actual PCBA manufacturing. This is where schematic files are fed into special printers that overlay the design onto a laminate material pre-bonded with copper to form the PCB structure. An important step in this process is the cleaning to remove dust and other contaminants that could affect the quality of the final PCBs.
The copper is then etched away precisely to reveal the electrical pathways and gaps for components. It is then checked for consistency with the original PCB design. The final board is given another wash to remove impurities, before being sent for testing and assembly.
There are of course many more details involved in PCBA manufacturing but the above gives a general guide of the process.
3. PCB Testing
Once the first few boards have been manufactured, another round of testing ensues. During this stage, errors or areas for improvement are identified. Some issues with PCBs might only reveal themselves after the actual boards have been manufactured, even if they passed initial development checks. Having an additional round of testing addresses this problem and optimises the entire process.
4. PCB Assembly
Once the PCBs themselves are ready, the next stage is the actual mounting of components through a soldering process. There are a number of technologies and innovations involved in this process that allow very precise mounting and soldering to be done via automation.
Once assembled, the finished boards can be sent out for packaging and shipping, concluding the entire PCBA manufacturing process.
Although PCBA manufacturing can seem like a complicated and even tedious process at times, the results speak for themselves. PCBs are reliable and versatile marvels of engineering that help to power our electronic world. Multiple checks, optimisations, and quality control measures during PCBA manufacturing help ensure a consistent product that’s cost-effective and delivers a high level of performance.
Have questions about PCBA manufacturing or reliability test services? Contact us today with your queries and we’ll be in touch with you to answer your questions.